Physical Topology

The physical layout of devices on a network. Every LAN has a topology, or the way that the devices on a network are arranged and how they communicate with each other. The way that the workstations are connected to the network through the actual cables that transmit data — the physical structure of the network — is called the physical topology.

The logical topology, in contrast, is the way that the signals act on the network media, or the way that the data passes through the network from one device to the next without regard to the physical interconnection of the devices.

A network’s logical topology is not necessarily the same as its physical topology. For example, twisted pair Ethernet is a logical bus topology in a physical star topology layout. While IBM’s Token Ring is a logical ring topology, it is physically set up in a star topology.

Recommended Reading: This Webopedia Study Guide describes five of the most common network topologies.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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